1) There are two personalities having a constant fight within my soul.
There’s a scared little girl and a brave badass little girl inside of me. There’s a constant battle, and I often wonder which one is going to win. Oftentimes, I have the external appearance of a fearless woman even though I’ve stuffed away that scared little girl deep down inside of me.
During a happy hour, I had a conversation with a C-level executive from one of my old companies. Though he was known for his ruthless and quick decision-making, he was honest with me. Everyone at my company put this guy up on a pedestal because of his overnight success. Even he eventually admitted to me that for a whole year he was scared shitless. He also told me that he found me to be pretty intimidating and hard to impress. Seriously?!? If he only knew.
I’ve now realized that we are all just trying to figure it out. And no matter how far along we get in life, we’ll never really have it all figured out. Deep down inside there’s a scared little girl inside of everyone. Ultimately, we are always learning how to manage our fears.
Maybe we should consider fear as the catalyst instead of the excuse for NOT taking action in our lives?
2) You can look at fear as a new opportunity.
Yes, we should all be cautious and safe when we make decisions. Because I invest a lot of time in worrying and thinking, I lose out on new lessons and experiences. The fear holds me back from the pursuit of my dreams.
Before I made the decision to travel to Medellin, I had a ridiculous list of fears holding me back from making the trip: what if I have a run-in with the law, what if having a roommate ends up being unpleasant, or what if nobody understands my rudimentary Spanish. Most of the time our fears don’t even manifest.
So, here’s the thing: When I went to Medellin, I was interrogated by the anti-narcos police for almost an hour having all my things searched and answering questions in my basic Spanish. My roommate who was really amazing and kind ended up having night terrors a couple of times in the middle of the night. And, I did have a few Colombians react to my Spanish language skills: a whole pharmacy was entertained by my confusion between the word for lavender and the word for laundry and a cab driver spent about thirty minutes trying to make my accent sound more Colombian. But, hey, I survived unscathed. I came away with new friends and new adventures.
So, sometimes things you are worried about do happen, and the interesting thing is knowing that I was brave enough to work through the experiences. You can survive through fearful situations.
What if we chose to work through our fears instead of letting them paralyze us?
3) We need a container to work through and manage our fears.
In order to better work through my fears, I need ways to explore my fears in small ways. One of the most effective ways I have learned how to manage my worries and anxieties is through art therapy. I use my art and creativity to examine unknown methods, mediums, and ideas that have not been worked out.
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to my art. Just a few weeks ago, I was really anxious about my upcoming year because of graduate school applications and other future opportunities. A friend of mine wanted to teach me how to watercolor, and I had some skepticism about it. Instead of trusting her and letting her just show me, I would stop and ask a ton of questions.
The way I treat new situations is a huge indicator. If I’m fearful or doubtful about my artwork, then I am usually carrying similar feelings about my life. I need to be okay with not having a well-planned strategy all the time especially if I am just playing around in my sketchbook or creating a new painting. Not everything in life has to be perfectly curated.
It’s okay to have places in your life that are not perfect, not organized, and not a guarantee.